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Beginner's Guide to Auto-Tuning in Logic

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Some of the biggest names in music are using an effect, most commonly known as Auto-Tune, which corrects the pitch of a singer's voice. When used subtly, it can be a really effective way to make a good singer sound even better, but when overused, it can cause problems. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to get started and begin Auto-Tuning in Logic Pro X.

Auto-Tuning Explained

According to the Google dictionary, "Auto-Tuning is the process of using a device or facility for tuning something automatically, especially a piece of computer software which enables the correction of an out-of-tune vocal performance."

One thing that I should clear up is the difference between the well known term, Auto-Tune, and the process itself, Pitch Correction. Auto-Tune is in fact one specific piece of software, created by Antares, and the name seems to have caught on since the launch of that piece of software.

Another thing to clear up is the difference between Pitch Correction and Voice Transformation. Pitch Correction is what's usually referred to as Auto-Tune (though, you now know not to call it that), whilst Voice Transformation is normally increasing or decreasing the pitch of a recording in its entirety.

An example of Pitch Correction would be Katy Perry singing a note or two out of tune, and then the sound engineers making her sound in pitch. Whereas, an example of Voice Transformation would be will.i.am speaking at a normal pitch, and then being made to sound much lower than he really is.

Anyway, enough on that; in this tutorial, you'll be learning about Pitch Correction. Luckily, in Logic Pro X, it's really simple to achieve this effect, using either of the following three methods:

  1. Pitch Correction tool - the simplest and easiest way to make vocals more in-tune.
  2. Flex Pitch - added in Logic Pro X, this is a great way to fine-tune a vocalist's pitch.
  3. External plugins - using a third party plugin, like Antares Auto-Tune, instead of Logic's built in tools.

Who Uses Auto-Tune?

The simplest answer to this question, is most people in the music industry. Whilst artists like Cher and Akon openly use the effect to sound more robotic and 'cool', many artists, such as Lady Gaga will use it at a very low level, to correct the slightest mistakes, and make good vocals sound great.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about more examples of artists who use Auto-Tune, there's a list of them.

Logic's Pitch Correction Tool

By far the simplest way of making your vocals sound more in-tune and on-key, would be to use Logic's built-in Pitch Correction tool. Let's take a look at how you can use this tool, on a dry vocal track, from Free Vocals.

Step 1

Record or import the vocal track you want to correct into your project, and trim it to length.

Recording and Trimming in Logic
Recording and Trimming in Logic

Step 2

On the left hand side, enable a new Audio FX, called Pitch Correction, which can be found within the Pitch category.

Enabling Pitch Correction in Logic
Enabling Pitch Correction in Logic

Step 3

You'll now be presented with a mainly blue display, consisting of a small keyboard, some buttons, and some sliders. Initially, you should set the scale, by either clicking individual notes to enable/disable them, or by choosing the Root and Scale from the drop down lists.

The Pitch Correction Tool in Logic
The Pitch Correction Tool in Logic

Step 4

Next, select whether the vocal track is Normal or Low. As a general rule, most male vocals should be considered as Low, and female vocals should be considered as Normal.

Normal or Low Pitch Correcting in Logic
Normal or Low Pitch Correcting in Logic

Step 5

Play the track, and see what you think. You'll probably notice a slight improvement in the pitch of the vocalist, but in order to make the vocals sound even better, you'll need to alter the Response and Detune sliders.

Step 6

The lower the Response Time, the more noticeable the effect will be. You should try and strike a balance between an in-tune vocal sound, and a robotic vocal sound.

Step 7

Finally, using the Correction Amount bar as a guide, if the vocal track is consistently above or below the center point, change the Detune slider to accommodate this.

Step 8

Advanced users may wish to add waypoints on the tracks themselves, in order to increase or decrease these factors throughout the song, though in most cases, that should be enough to get a nice, in-tune vocal sound.

Correcting Pitch With Flex Pitch

Flex Pitch is a really useful tool for correcting the pitch of a vocal track, one note at a time. It allows you to drag and drop each note into the exact place you'd like it, and is very flexible, like its name suggests.

Before you begin working with Flex Pitch, if you've been following the above section of the tutorial, you'll want to disable the Pitch Correction tool. This can be done by either clicking the power icon next to the item in the Audio FX list, or by clicking the up-down arrows next to the item, and selecting No Plug-in.

Step 1

To get started, click the Show Flex button, in the top left corner of the main editing area.

Enabling Flex Mode in Logic
Enabling Flex Mode in Logic

Step 2

On the drop down list of modes, select Flex Pitch, and wait a couple of seconds whilst it initialises.

Flex Modes in Logic
Flex Modes in Logic

Step 3

You'll now see some additional blue sections, added to your vocal track. This indicates that Flex Pitch is in use, and how much work it's doing for each note.

Flex Pitch Is Now in Use
Flex Pitch Is Now in Use

Step 4

Click the Scissors icon, to open up the Track Editor, and take a look at the keyboard, and where the notes have been placed by default.

Opening the Track Editor in Logic
Opening the Track Editor in Logic

Step 5

Now, you can simply drag the notes up and down, to make them more in-tune.

Dragging and Dropping on Flex Pitch in Logic
Dragging and Dropping on Flex Pitch in Logic

Step 6

You've now pitched your vocal track correctly, using Flex Pitch. For more information on how to use this powerful tool, check out Getting Creative with Logic Pro X’s Flex Audio Features.

Antares Auto-Tune 7

Like I mentioned at the beginning, people often confuse the term, Auto-Tune, with the piece of software, made by Antares, entitled Auto-Tune. This is a premium piece of software, used by professionals to enhance vocals even better, with much more control.

To learn more about Antares Auto-Tune, visit the Antares website.

In Summary

It's clear that Logic Pro X offers great ways to make sure your vocals are in-pitch, and sounding better than ever. Though, one thing that's certain, is that you can't beat a naturally talented vocalist. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, and I'll be sure to get back to you as soon as possible.

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